2002 Women's Soccer Outlook
Aug. 20, 2002
What do you do when you graduate 12 of your top players. Well, if you are Joe Pereira and the rest of the Old Dominion women's soccer staff, you hit the recruiting trail and reload. Two years removed from a program best 13-7-1 record, the Lady Monarchs lost a heart breaking seven games by one goal last year and then graduated the majority of their statistical leaders. So, as ODU enters the 2002 season they bring with them seven highly touted recruits and plenty of determination to return back among the CAA elite.
"We feel this incoming class is one of the best, if not the best, we've ever had," says head coach Joe Pereira. This season's squad will include 19 first or second year players. "We are very excited about the youth on this team, we have lots of speed, talent, and athletic dimension," adds Pereira.
The impressive incoming class will be coupled with 17 letterwinners from a year ago to create one of the conference's most impressive and talented teams. "We have improved in all aspects, besides experience, and are excited about building an experienced group. We will look to our juniors and seniors to provide the necessary leadership to our youngest players," says Pereira.
The Lady Monarchs will depend on sophomore Stephanie Miller (Plymouth Meeting, PA) to control the goal in 2002. Miller is coming off a series of impressive off-season workouts and looks ready to be a force between the pipes. She didn't allow a goal in limited action last season serving as the backup to 2001-02 graduates all-CAA selection Tonya Dedmond and Alison Kinsler. The future is clearly now for this talented goal stopper.
Competing for starts with Miller will be Kristen Bailey (Hamilton, VA), a junior transfer from George Mason. After redshirting her freshman year, she made 14 saves with an 82% GAA as a sophomore at GMU.
Seniors Christine Aulicino (Chesapeake, VA) and Meghan Cathcart (Williamsburg, VA) join a young group of contenders to form the anchor of the ODU backfield. Aulicino will help solidify the defense and bring important experience to her counterparts. She has played in 37 games with 16 starts in her three seasons as a Lady Monarch. Cathcart will serve as captain in her final year after scoring one goal in 16 contests last season. She has 24 career starts coming into this year and will be looked upon to lead her team from the backfield.
Fellow returnees Kasey Johnson (Va. Beach, VA) and sophomore Shibaughn Stevens (Penfield, NY) will join Aulicino and Cathcart. Stevens is back for her second season after being a key player last year, making 13 starts. Johnson, a junior, will see plenty of time on the field as the defense looks to surpass their two shutouts from a year ago.
Sophomore Tina DiFerdinando (Boothwyn, PA) and freshman Heather Jones (Waldorf, MD) and Melissa Futrell (Va. Beach, VA) are all coming off knee injuries and will compete for starting jobs once healthy. DeFerdinando and Futrell have had time to rehab and let their injury heal and should be ready for the start of the season. Jones continues her comeback and is set to return in mid-September. "Of course there is the huge question how they will return, but we feel real good about their rehab and will wait to see how they respond," said Pereira.
Sophomore sensation Maura Linz (Prospect, KY) is set to lead the ODU midfield in 2002 after her award winning season as a freshman. Linz was named the CAA Rookie of the Year and selected to the All-CAA second team after netting one goal and providing three assists. After making an immediate impact last year she will move into a much deserved leadership role this year. Junior Diane Baucom (Va. Beach, VA) will make to move to the midfield from her forward position and see ample time in the lineup. She saw action in 14 games and made nine starts last year and has 19 total points in her Monarch career. She will provide great support for Linz as they control the field for Old Dominion.
Behind Linz and Baucom is a talented pair of newcomers ready to step up and succeed with ODU. Freshman Heather Vaughan (Va. Beach) and Danielle Heusser (Hummelstown, PA) come in after completing incredible high school careers where they both won numerous awards and honors. They will compete immediately and will be the driving force for the ODU midfield for seasons to come.
Leadership and experience in the midfield will be handled by a group of players who will be pressing hard for starts this year. Becca McLain (Va. Beach, VA) and Sarah Raible (Louisville, KY) were critical parts of the team last year as freshman. They have come back this season working hard and ready to play when called upon. Juniors Michelle Harrison (Gloucester, VA) and Erica Campbell (Redding, CT) and sophomore Courtney Rudd (Stephens City, VA) have played a collective 19 games between them and will provide valuable midfield depth once again in 2002.
After losing the majority of their frontline talent to graduation last year, a highly skilled group of newcomers has arrived to take their place. Laura Beeman (Chalfont, PA), Kim Snyder (Va. Beach, VA), Melissa Sheranko (Hershey, PA) and Meredith Worsley (Durham, NC) have all come in ready to be impact players. They will combine to cause many problems to opposing defenses for years to come.
"They are a big part of our incoming class and give us more size and speed than we have seen in recent years." says Pereira.
The offensive punch doesn't end there as sophomores Bea Gugliotti (Avon, CT) and Ashley Kramer (Jefferson Hills, PA) are back and will be mainstays in the lineup as the Lady Monarchs mature. Gugliotti played in 14 games last year providing one assist while Kramer scored two goals in eight games, making one start. They are both coming off great spring workouts and will definitely help the new members of the team take ODU to new heights.
Also in the mix are sophomore Jamie Varela (Va. Beach, VA) and senior transfer Okiima Pickett (Charlottesville, VA). Varela saw action in five games as a freshman while Pickett will bring high-powered scoring ability to the Lady Monarchs program.
Schedule and Outlook
The 2002 women's soccer schedule is one of transition as the Lady Monarchs look to form a new identity and successful reputation. The CAA welcomes four new women's soccer programs into the conference this season. This means that ODU will be playing four teams that aren't too familiar with.
"Our schedule this year is both very challenging and uncertain. William and Mary, George Mason, and James Madison are always tough games, but we aren't sure what to expect from the new teams," says Pereira.
Old Dominion opens the year welcoming to town UNC-Greensboro and UMBC before going on the road to Campbell. Then they will take part in the Rutgers Tournament with big games against St. Johns and Rutgers.
"The Rutgers Tournament will be a big event on a national scope. It will be a big test for us early," says Pereira.
They face Arkansas and American in Norfolk before their conference schedule begins against James Madison at home. They have tough non-conference games on the road at Va. Tech and Radford during their conference schedule. They close out the year at home against George Mason before the CAA Championships on November 7th-10th at the Va. Beach Sportsplex.
No matter who comes to town or where they go, the 2002 Lady Monarchs will be playing hard. They are a young team who will depend on their seniors for leadership and experience. The climb back to the top begins this season and with the experienced leaders on this team grouped with the young talent, this team is clearly ready for the task.
"With a group of girls this young and exciting they can't wait to get out there and play. So that is exactly what we are going to let them do," says Pereira.